From a monitoring station in Peoria, Illinois, a large truck manufacturer says it can effectively prevent drowsy driving-related crashes.
Using advanced facial recognition software that is linked to dash-mounted cameras, operators at Caterpillar’s Sleep Fatigue Center can tell when drivers start to nod off or become distracted. Mike Hatfield, a Business Development Manager at Caterpillar, says that SFC operators also access the drivers’ schedules, to predict when their alertness levels will drop. Once the data is collected, safety advisers review it and then forward it to the client shipping company. The transportation company then takes action based on the results, which could involve more rest periods or a different shift schedule.
Mr. Hatfield says the company takes a “holistic” approach to drowsy driving and other safety concerns.
The government conservatively estimates that about 100,000 car crashes each year are directly attributable to drowsy driving, but the National Sleep Foundation believes that figure may just be “the tip of the iceberg.” The NSF notes that there is no Breathalyzer-type test to determine fatigue level, so all the statistics are self-reported, and some law enforcement agencies do not even code drowsy driving as a factor in car crashes. More than a third of survey respondents admitted that they had fallen asleep while driving at least once in the past year, and more than twice that number admitted that they were impaired because of fatigue.
Drowsiness affects everyone at some point, and shift workers are the most susceptible to drowsy driving. In terms of the effect, lack of sleep is very much like alcohol, because it impairs motor skills, reaction time, judgment ability, and other necessary skills. Specifically:
Sleepy or fatigued driving is a breach of the duty of reasonable care, so if these drivers cause car crashes, they are responsible for the victims’ economic damages, including lost wages, and noneconomic damages, including emotional distress. Punitive damages are also available, in some cases.
If you or a loved one was hurt or killed in a car crash, contact Hoffoss Devall for prompt assistance from an experienced Lake Charles personal injury lawyer, because you have a limited amount of time to act.